Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Share the Love: Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Michigan, to me, is like a treasure chest filled with hidden jewels.

We typically spend a few weekends at John's grandparents’ cottage in southwest Michigan each summer along with an entire week when we can swing it.

Each time we venture into this beautiful state, we always find new places to explore during days of rain.

And it seems like each year we find a place to which we just cannot wait to pay another visit. This time, we found several, as there were a number of rainy days that were better spent exploring than looking longingly at the beach from the windows of the tiny cabin.

We decided to venture into Ann Arbor to visit friends with whom we don’t often get to spend time, and while we were there we paid a visit to a wonderful kid-centric destination.

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, though, is not a typical indoor children’s mecca of fun that leaves parents harrowed and chasing after myriad children who just cannot find anything age appropriate to sink their hands into and wrap their minds around within the same space.

This museum lives up to its name; it is the epitome of hands on – and not just for one age group. The activities located on the main floor appeal to myriad age ranges and offer different levels of engagement for toddlers all the way to older children. I appreciated that my almost three year old could play happily in the same room with the same activities that my five year old enjoyed; even Alita’s seven year old engaged in the same activities albeit in a different way.

Picture by Alita of Alita Jewel's Treasures.
While my toddler enjoyed doing things like flushing the model toilet, the older children liked figuring out how all the pipes were attached; I could almost see little engineers in the making, though, they were definitely in different seasons of exploration

We spent about an hour on the main floor exploring the building blocks rooms, the water table and an indoor activity house, but we spent more of our time in the amazing preschooler room, as three of our four littles ones fell most comfortably into that category.

While they explored gravity and mass and the like by engaging in hands-on play with an elaborate ball and tunnel/forced system, the adults actually had a chance to {gasp!} sit down and share in adult conversation.

This wasn't made possibly simply because of the awesome activities in the room, but also because most every crevice of the room is easily visible from the center. And it's in a bright and airy but enclosed space on its own floor of the museum, so there was no need to contemplate little escape artists making a break for it.

One feature I especially appreciated at the museum was break room where families can go and eat food they've brought from home instead of being bound to purchasing from an on-site cafe.

The only down part of the day was leaving, as all of the boys really wanted to stay and continue playing. Even after an entire afternoon spent exploring, more activities still lured them in. We could have closed the place down had we not had dinner plans.

All pictures by the fabulously talented Alita of Alita Jewel's Treasures

I have to be honest; we have some really fabulous museums close to our house in Chicago, so we're a bit spoiled, but my children so very much enjoyed the AAHOM that we would return despite it being two hours away from our cabin --

especially if we were privileged enough to have the same fabulous company we had this time around; it's truly a wonderful destination for imaginative play and discovery and perfect for meeting up with friends!

Disclosure: One of my favorite parts of blogging happens when I'm able to share life in a meaningful way -- and that includes divulging about places we've visited and thoroughly enjoyed. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum welcomed both mine and Alita's families for an afternoon of fun in exchange for us sharing our experiences at the museum. 

Connect with Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum on Facebook, if you're planning a trip. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great time! Wishing we could come play with you!


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